Author Guest Blogger

The Happy Writer

Today’s guest post is by Courtney Ellis, author of the recently released Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit.

Courtney is one of Bob Hostetler’s clients and lives with her husband and three children in southern California. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

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There’s no cliché for a cheerful writer. We all know the unhappy writer tropes—the moody misanthrope, the coffee-addicted insomniac, the introverted naval-gazer. Steinbeck sharpened dozens of pencils before he began his work each day. Emily Dickinson rarely left her home. Hemingway drank heavily. (This is not recommended.)

For the Christian writer there is the tension between the hard work of craft—writing isn’t just inspiration, after all, it is also sweat and toil and ruthless editing—and the scriptural call to “Rejoice always!” (Phil. 4:4). Can we truly do both?

My latest book explores God’s gift of playfulness as a vital source of fuel for our joy, connection, and creativity. It is nearly impossible to stay sad while engaging in play! The universal lessons contained in Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit apply to the writerly life too.

First, we are invited to rest well. The importance of the call and command to practice Sabbath rest is as important for authors as it is for anyone. A frazzled, exhausted writer will struggle to find happiness. As we engage in “praying and playing,” as Eugene Peterson once put it, God renews us for the work ahead through the joy of the Sabbath. Write with all your heart, then rest, relax, recreate. Read widely and not only (or even mainly!) in your genre.

Secondly, we are given permission to do useless things. Perhaps you love jigsaw puzzles or baking French macarons or racing BMX bikes, but you rarely allow yourself the opportunity because there is work to do. What if I told you that engaging in a bit of play—just for the pure fun of it—could help refill your tank for the work ahead? Play provides a wonderful source of energy.

When all our writing is driven toward a goal—that hoped-for book deal, perhaps, or a blog we keep faithfully, or maybe a publication we pitch to faithfully year after year—we can begin to forget what first drew us into the world of words in the first place. Sometimes, write only for fun. Create a whimsical Christmas card, write and illustrate your own children’s book with a Sharpie and a handful of crayons, or give a few minutes to that passion project that no one else will ever see.

There are eight more writerly invitations into play contained within the pages of Happy Now. I could share them all with you here, but … where’s the fun in that?

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Strategies to Self-Pity Proof Your Writing Life

Today’s guest post is by Lori Stanley Roeleveld. She is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four unsettling books, including The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at …

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Where Do Your Readers Come From?

Today’s guest writer is Carla Laureano. She is a two-time RITA® award-winning author of over a dozen books, spanning the genres of contemporary romance and Celtic fantasy. A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked in sales and marketing for more than a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write …

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Your Words Can Be More Powerful Than Technology

Today’s guest post is by Laura L. Smith. She is a best-selling author and speaker who lives in the picturesque college town of Oxford, Ohio, where you’ll find her running the wooded trails, strolling the brick streets, teaching Bible study at her local church, shopping at the Saturday morning farmer’s …

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Writing Advice I Took to Heart

Today’s guest post is by Lori Hatcher. She is an editor, writing instructor, award-winning Toastmasters International speaker, blogger, and author of three (soon to be five) devotionals, including Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible, and Hungry for God … Starving for Time: Five-Minute Devotions for …

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Coming Full Circle

by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Today’s guest blog is from Kim Vogel Sawyer a best-selling author whose books have topped the sales charts and won awards since 2005, when she left her elementary school teaching job to write full time. Her books have won the Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her stories are designed to offer hope and encouragement to her readers. Kim sees a correlation between the writing of a good story and God’s good plan for every life, and she hopes her stories encourage readers to seek God’s will in their own personal lives. Bestselling author Tracie Peterson says: “Kim Vogel Sawyer is an exceptional storyteller who is sure to please fans of historical fiction. Her attention to detail and love of God shines through.”

In addition to writing, Kim Vogel Sawyer is a popular speaker, freely sharing her testimony of God’s grace and healing-both physical and emotional-in her life. She and her husband Don reside in Hutchinson, Kansas, and have three daughters and four grandchildren. She is active in her church and loves singing, acting, playing handbells, quilting, and chocolate!

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In 2002, as my health was crumbling to the point that full-time teaching was no longer a possibility and I didn’t know what I was going to do, my dad–feeling as though I needed a major lift–took it upon himself to make my publishing dream come true. He sent a story I’d written, titled A Seeking Heart, to Steve Laube, who, at the time, owned a self-publishing company called ACW Press. And Steve agreed to help me get it into print.

Thus began a journey beyond the scope of my wildest imaginings.

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The Power of the Short Story

Today’s guest writer is Deborah Clack, who is a native Texan and nonrecovering chocolate addict. A high-school AP history teacher for 10 years, Deborah earned a master’s degree in education and was awarded Teacher of the Year for Arts in Education. Now she creates award-winning stories of her own with …

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Give Thanks to God

There is a verse in scripture which sets out in bold relief the great besetting problem of the human race. It is Romans 1:21: ‘for even though we knew God…we did not give thanks.’ Astonishing! How can we actually know God and not give thanks? Scarcely a day passes in which we are not deluged by at least a hundred instances of God’s goodness to us. Thanksgiving ought to be the most natural of human reflexes, as spontaneous as drawing breath.

Doubtless there are a plethora of reasons why we do not feel thankful. Perhaps business is stressful, or marriage is disappointing, or parenting is unfulfilling, or health is deteriorating, or school is unrewarding. Or maybe we simply take for granted God’s goodness to us.

How important it is, then, to rehearse frequently all that God does for us. Only then will an unending torrent of thanksgiving be unleashed from our hearts. Nowhere is God’s goodness more compellingly set out in His word. Immerse yourself in what follows, luxuriate in the story of God’s grace to you. . . and be thankful!

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Who is like the Lord our God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who is enthroned above the vault of the earth . . . and who stretches out the heavens like a curtain. How majestic is His name . . . When we consider His heavens, the work of His fingers, the moon and the stars which He has ordained, what are we that He should take thought of us?

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Do You Need to Hire a Professional Editor?

Recently, a blog reader sent the following question: Tamela, as everyone knows, writing can be a desperately lonely pastime. The biggest thing I struggle with is direction or coaching. That is, “Have I developed a good story, concept, or theme? Or, am I seriously off the rails, a hopeless case?” …

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